Welcome to the eighth edition of Civil Service Quarterly.
A key theme running through this issue is that technological advancements are changing the way we live and work: ‘A revolution on our roads’ explores a future in which cars drive themselves; the power of Cabinet Office’s Technology Transformation programme is documented in ‘Using technology to change the way we work’; whilst ‘Public Dialogue – solving an ethical dilemma’ shows how public engagement has led to the legalisation of new techniques to treat mitochondrial disease.
Clearly, civil servants need the skills to keep pace with this rapidly changing world. Articles such as ‘Fighting crime with better data’, which explores HMRC’s new approach to analysing and linking data, and ‘A 10 point plan for growth: two years on’, which outlines Defra’s strategic approach to promoting economic growth, showcase some of the cutting- edge techniques and new approaches being used in departments.
But this edition also opens up the challenge more widely: how can government ensure the UK’s entire workforce is equipped with the skills needed to compete with the rest of the world? ‘Partnering with business to Make Things Do Stuff’ and ‘A root and branch review of STEM’ explore two approaches to developing vital STEM skills, particularly amongst young people.
But one of the most urgent and pressing challenges facing governments worldwide is the most recent Ebola outbreak. As DFID works with a range of departments to develop a vaccine, diagnose and treat patients, and contain the spread of the disease, the need for new techniques, cross- departmental collaboration and an international perspective couldn’t be clearer. Meanwhile, in ‘Bridging the Divide’ Sir Jonathan Stephens provides a fascinating insight into the role played by civil servants in securing cross-party agreement – proof, if any were needed, of why exactly objectivity and impartiality are so important within the civil service.
The period around an election is an always interesting and sometimes uncertain time. But, we hope that this issue makes clear, that rigorous evaluation and continuous improvement is central to creating a world-leading civil service capable of responding to any future challenge. We hope that you enjoy the articles; please do comment and share your views, or use #csquarterly on social media. We look forward to hearing from you.